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How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

Life is hard — way harder than anyone thought it would be. When you were younger, you dreamed of the world being your playground, and you were told that you could do anything and be anyone you wanted. Somehow, though, things haven’t been the smooth sailing you wanted them to be. The world seems to conspire against you, and the last thing you want to hear is “Cheer up!”

Still, there are a couple things you might not notice about your situation. Next time you’re down, maybe the following will provide motivation:

Not everything is bad.

It’s a well accepted fact that bad news makes for sensational television ratings. The fact that something is negative catches a lot more attention than something positive in the same vein, and that’s because it’s easy to see things in a negative light. However, that should not distract you from the bigger picture.

Resist the tunnel vision that results from constant negativity. Remember that even though there’s a lot of really nasty stuff going on, you’re surrounded by some pretty awesome stuff, as well.

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Other people aren’t you.

No one likes being compared to another person. What makes it even worse, if that’s even possible, is when you do it to yourself.

“Sarah and I were in the same graduating class, but she’s a successful business owner and I am not” is essentially mental suicide. Every experience in any person’s life is like rolling a handful of dice. You don’t get the same kind of dice, the same amount of them, or the same number of re-rolls as anyone else because everyone else is not you! Sarah rolled ten sixes, and you only rolled seven.

“Sarah is therefore better than me!” you might say. To be fair, she may have something over you — in that specific instance. However, you still rolled seven sixes! That’s an insanely high number, and you did well rolling it.

Stop comparing yourself to another person and you will realize that you are way more awesome than you give yourself credit for.

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Failure isn’t where the game stops.

So you tried something new, but you didn’t follow through. Frustrated at yourself, you stop trying. As a result, your quality of life goes down immensely. You’ve given up on it, though, because you don’t see the point (since you failed the first time).

Now, look at that same story again. But this time, set the main character as a 5-year-old version of yourself. The outcome is very different, I bet: Your younger self tried to do a thing, failed, and then tried it a different way until he or she figured out how it worked. There were surely many, many failures along the way, but that version of you didn’t see failure as the end of the road.

Now, you’re an adult. The things you are trying are much more complicated than 5-year-old you. However, your behaviour should not change in the slightest — when you fail at something, that’s just more information in your data bank. You know that method does not work, so try another one! And another one after that! Do this until you figure it out.

Giving up is for lesser beings, and you sure aren’t one of those.

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The past is way back there.

There is not a human alive or dead that has never made a choice they regret. Whether it was something so small as a purchase you later decided was a bad idea, or something gargantuan, like the weird tryst you had with the foreign exchange student during Club Rush in sophomore year, it’s there. And you’re treating it like a big, swollen thumb.

Knock that off immediately and you will see just how much your life improves. The most important thing to take away from this idea is that your past is not what makes you who you are. The things that happened to you way back there are just that — in the past. You cannot change what happened to you, but you can definitely change how it affects you in the present and whether it will dictate who you are in the future.

You are alive right now, and right now is all you get. You can’t go back, and the future is coming at its own pace. Don’t worry about the other two points — this one, right now, is the important one.

Everything that happens in your life is valuable.

My personal life’s philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: No experience is a wasted one if it leads to a story you can tell.

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Did you get kicked out of your apartment and have to spend three weeks living in your car while you tried to find a new place? Story time. Did your bank account get stolen by a scammer and used to purchase a yacht? Story time. Did you lose your best friend to a petty squabble, and now you won’t even talk any more? Story bloody time! The stuff that seems bad now is the stuff you will tell stories about in the future.

I cannot stress this enough: Everything in your life gives you purpose somehow, even if it’s something terrible. It is up to you to decide exactly which stories to tell — but your responsibility lies first in getting the stories to happen so that you can tell them. Every story needs conflict, needs adverse contact with some negative force. That way, when the good bits are there, you really know that they are the good bits because they compare to the other bits of your story and give it perspective.

It’s all about perspective.

See your life through your own eyes.

If you let someone else tell you your life is terrible, then you might as well believe them. Never, ever take that from another living being. Your life belongs to you, so you get to decide whether it’s good or not. You may not always get the exact things you are looking for when you come to the temple, but the temple welcomes you anyway, and you cannot deny its hospitality.

Of course, negative things happen. Of course, they are terrible and dreadful. But, maybe, those negative experiences are the real link between the happy and the sad.

Featured photo credit: bryan… via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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